Dennis Prue

Dennis Prue

Dennis has been researching family trees for more than 30 years. His expertise has been invaluable in helping to break through brick walls.


This Old Tree, May 2018

Helping Others Can Have Unexpected Benefits

By Finding Your Own Ancestry Records

This month’s column is about the benefits of helping fellow genealogists (or those trying to do their family tree).

One member of our group has a brick wall in one of his/her major lines. I and others have racked our brains trying to find the missing link. This member was kind of down because nothing was showing up whatsoever.

The member had tried contacting other groups in that community but had received no responses. I found an email address for the Library in the area where his brick wall is stated that that member ancestor was a native of New Brunswick. The Librarian looked at what records the member had requested and informed him/her that the local museum would be more likely to be of help. She then passed on the information to a person at the local museum.

One of the ladies who worked (I will call her Karen) at the museum contacted one of our members and asked some questions. Our member then got me involved again to help explain why one possible man could not be the correct person due to the DNA test that our member had taken.

I sent Karen an easy to understand explanation of the DNA test and how it worked. I told her if she had any more questions to feel free to ask them and I would answer to best of my ability.

A short time later on a Sunday afternoon, Karen emailed me a family list of a man who was from Woolwich, Maine, that had a son with same first name as our members “brick wall”.

Karen explains that she had a file and folder at her home and was spending her Sunday looking for answers. She explained that when she had some free time at the museum she would look for more possible information on this “brick wall”, but museum work came first.

I was fairly certain that Jay’s private library had information on Woolwich, Maine. Jay loaned me the book on the vital records of Woolwich and also a book on the founding families of Woolwich.

Jay has had this book since 2007 but it was not with some other records in his library. It was a book that I had not seen before. The book did have information on a man from Woolwich and his father’s family.

But I found that this book was a big help to me personally because my Greenleaf family were part of the founders of Woolwich. Three Greenleaf brothers help found Woolwich. These men were older brothers to my 5th Great Grandmother, Lydia Greenleaf.

The various documents in the book gave me a clearer timeline of my ancestors moved from York, Maine to the town of Woolwich, Maine.

My helping with that member’s brick wall leads me to Jay’s book on the Founding Families of Woolwich, Maine. These, in turn, help me to narrow and refine my ancestors move from Southern Maine to the Down East coast of Maine. Many times while helping or researching for others I have found information for myself.

There was a time when I was helping with a family living in Ste. Anne La Pocatiere and found my 3rd great-grandparents, Jean-Hilarie Proulx and Marie Charlotte Ouellette and their eldest son, Hilaire, born on August 16, 1776, in Montmagny, Quebec. But I did not find his baptism because he was listed as a Provest instead of Proulx.

When reading the record of Hilaire he was born in Montmagny and baptized on Aug. 17, 1817, at Montmagny, but recorded at Ste. Anne La Pocateire. The reason was that the Priest from Ste. Anne was covering for the Priest from Montmagny, who was away for several days. The Christening act was his ministry so he recorded in his home parish instead of the town where the family was living.

You need to be open to looking at any and every book, resources and website online.

Next Month: I will explain if the help from Karen benefited our member and see if the information she supplied helped break his/her “brick wall”.

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This Old Tree, May 2018 by Dennis Prue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at